May 20, 2021
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
This is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing report for May 20, 2021. If there is a body of water you would like included in this report, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with information on possible sources for reports about that lake or river. Reports are updated weekly, although some reports might be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter for the lake or stream you plan to fish for current news. Note: msl = mean sea level; cfs = cubic feet per second. All Corps of Engineers lake and river readings were taken at 10 a.m. the day of publication (May 20).
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Arkansas River and White River levels are available at: http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=lzk
For real-time information on stream flow in Arkansas from the U.S. Geological Survey, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/rt
For water-quality statistics (including temperature) in many Arkansas streams and lakes, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/current/?type=quality
TOP AND LEFT: James Lasley of Little Rock caught this nice 5-pound largemouth bass from a private pond just outside of town using a do-nothing worm on a light spinning rod. His dad, who provided the photo, says James lost another fish about the same size about 10 minutes later. Still, what a prize on that catch, and what a photo! Send us your photos of your great times and memory-makers on Arkansas's waterways; email your submissions to email@example.com.
Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir
(updated 5-20-2021) Bates Field and Stream (501-470-1846) said the lake clarity is muddy and the lake has risen to 2 feet above normal as of Wednesday. Bream are fair on redworms and crickets. Crappie are on their beds and the bite is fair using minnows and jigs. Black bass are good on spinnerbaits, crankbaits and topwater lures. Catfish are good on live bait, bream and trotline minnows.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has issued an advisory to property owners in the watershed of Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir to prepare for the potential of a flood event. Significant rainfall has accrued within the watershed of Lake Conway over a two-day period this week. The ground is completely saturated and significant rain runoff is increasing the lake's water level.
The AGFC has opened all spillway gates and the lake is discharging water at maximum capacity. At 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Lake Conway's water level was 2 feet above normal pool and rising at 0.5 inches per hour. The flood stage for Lake Conway is 3 feet above normal pool (266.0 feet msl). The rate of rise is slowing; however, if an inch or more rain falls over the lake through Thursday morning, it could cause the lake to rise at or above flood stage. Please be aware of future rainfall and the potential for flooding of private property adjoining Lake Conway through Thursday evening.
The link to the USGS Gauge at Lake Conway is available at:
(updated 5-13-2021) Angler Dennis Charles visited Beaverfork as well as several other lakes in the area with similar conditions (Lake Brewer, Lake Cargile). He says, “Every finned critter is increasing the bite. Water temperature is around 72 degrees and the crappie are doing fine; use floating lures with dive as well as jigs., Bass are hitting everything in the box in the shallows and in the grass, "YES, in the grass and under the grass." Plasting worms, top poppers and Chatterbaits. Bream are much better on crickets and worms. Catfish are chasing plastics. ” Visit Dennis’ Facebook page (Arkansas Fishing Adventures) for more information – send Jim Harris, the AGFC managing editor, a photo of your catch and Jim just might post it here with the other photos.”
Little Red River
(updated 5-20-2021) Greg Seaton of littleredflyfishingtrips.com (501-690-9166) said the river is beginning to clear but still muddy below Sulphur Creek. It is returning to normal levels with generation varying each day based on the amount of water the lower river will accommodate. It would be best to check Southwestern Power Administration (swpa.org) or the Army Corps of Engineers website (swl-wc.usace.army.mil) or by phone (501-324-5551) each day for the generation. The schedule should return to the posted amount on Thursday or Friday based on the amount of rainfall. The river clarity should be closer to normal by the weekend.
(updated 5-13-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says water is fairly clear. Trout are really good on marabou jigs (olive color is best now), jerkbaits, Rapala Countdowns (rainbow trout or brown trout colors). Rainbow trout are good on Trout Magnets in pink, white and moleworm gold colors and on Rooster Tails.
Greers Ferry Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 468.65 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 463.04 feet msl, top flood elevation 487.0 msl).
(updated 5-20-2021) Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 468.55 feet msl and is 5.51 feet above normal pool for this month of 463.04 feet msl; looks like it may come up another foot, maybe more, based on this week’s rainfall and what is expected, but they have been making progress in getting it down before this last rain event.
Crappie are scattered from on the bank out to 30 feet and also in big schools roaming around in 15 feet depth over 60 feet of water. Use jigs and minnows.
Catfish are searching and feeding all over; flatheads are getting ready to spawn. All catfish baits and just about any live bait are working.
Bream are eating bass eggs and fry and are fixing to spawn as well; use crickets and crawlers, or just a bare hook will work sometimes.
Black bass are scattered from on the shoreline out to 40 feet. A lot of fish are in the old brush line starting to eat post-spawn, while some are starting to chase bait at mid-depths out away from brush but over structure. Fish vertical in the brush line, and drag something out deeper or stay with topwater baits.
Hybrid and white bass are super scattered as well. Some are still up rivers, some are out to 45 feet, roaming eating at will. Use spoons, inline spinners, and topwater baits.
Drum are eating good on flats; use spoons. There are lots of young drum, they are fun catching and it hones your skills with a spoon.
(updated 5-13-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says the lake is still 5-6 feet high after last week’s big rise. There is a slight stain. The surface water temperature is in the mid- to high 60s. Bass are excellent on upper and lower end around windy areas and brush on spinnerbaits, crankbaits, topwater (wake bait or Zara Spook). Up the river in dirty water, a Texas-rigged creature bait in green pumpkin colors with some flake in it on 3-ounce weight is a great way to fish, and they’re also having success using buzzbaits. Crappie are good in 15-20 feet depth on any natural-colored jigs (Tennessee Shad, blue/white or blue/silver colors). The walleye bite is good on points drop-shotting a nightcrawler or a blue/chartreuse swimbait.
Harris Brake Lake
(updated 5-20-2021) Harris Brake Lake Resort (501-889-2745) says the lake clarity still is muddy and the level is high. Bream are good on redworms or crickets. Crappie are still being caught in deeper water in fair numbers; use minnows or jigs. Black bass are around the shoreline, and the bite is fair. Plastic worms and crankbaits are the way to fish them. Catfishing is good. Trotlines and yo-yos baited with goldfish and minnows are working. Harris Brake Lake will be hosting a bass tournament on Saturday (May 22), call the resort for more information.
(updated 5-20-2021) New owner Phil Thomas at Lakeview Landing (501-354-5309) said the clarity as improved; Wedcnesday it was “pretty clear” but the level is high. Bream are good using redworms or crickets. Crappie are good in the mornings; minnows and jigs, of course. The black bass bite has returned. Anglers were having good results using Live Action rubber worms and 3-inch live bream. Catfish are favoring black salties on trotlines.
(updated 5-6-2021) Johnny “Catfish” Banks at Overcup Bait Shop and R.V. Park (501-354-9007) said water level is up by 1.5 feet. Clarity is murky and surface temperature is around 70 degrees. Bass are doing well on crankbaits and plastic worms. Bream are starting to pick up. Crappie are doing fair but should be spawning out. Catfish are picking up on trotlines and jugs using perch and big shinners. “I caught a couple of flatheads (on Monday), 18.2 pound and 13.14 pounds,” Johnny said. “Come see me at Overcup Bait Shop off Arkansas Highway 9 for all your fishing needs.”
(updated 5-13-2021) See Angler Dennis Charles’ report under Lake Beaverfork.
(update 5-6-2021) David Hall at Dad’s Bait Shop (501-977-0303) said the lake clarity is a little cloudy at midweek and the water level is normal. Bream are fair, he said. They are starting to hit in the sunlight especially, David added. Try redworms and crickets, and work those around the brushpiles. Crappie are staying deep but the bite is good. Target brushpiles with minnows or jigs. Anglers will find black bass moving in the afternoons. They’re biting bass minnows best. Catfishing is good on trotlines set up for deep water on the bottom.
(updated 5-6-2021) WestRock Landing in Roland (501-658-5598) said the lake surface water temperature is in the mid-60s. The largemouth bass bite is good. Some can be found in the grass on the shoreline and around the grass in 8-12 feet depth biting a variety of lures. Try using crankbaits, spinnerbaits and swimbaits. Kentucky (spotted) bass are fair with some reports of them being found near drop-offs around 16-20 feet and off rocky banks. Jigs are working best. Phillip Cole and Jason Bargiel teamed to catch five bass totaling 13.07 pounds to win the Tuesday Night Tournament. In the May 1 Bit's Big Bass Tournament, Kell Ward and Billy Wright caught five bass worth 14.36 pounds, David Stott and Josh Vaughn hauled in 13.95 pounds, and Brad Sherrill and Scotty Smith landed the Big Bass of 5.73 pounds. So, based on that, there are some healthy black bass in Maumelle.
White bass are fair, and the white bass run out of the west end of the lake in the tributaries is done. In the lake, there are reports of white bass mixed in with crappie and still biting swimbaits, Rat-L-Traps and minnows. Crappie fishing is GREAT. Reports this week of the crappie moving out of the shallow depth and being found in 12-16 feet of water; some were in 15-19 feet earlier in the week. Use jigs and minnows. Bream are ranging fair to good. Some anglers say they can be found in 12-16 feet depth around the beds, though they are not quite on them yet. Use crickets or worms. Catfishing is slow, with no reports coming in this week. Maybe you'll have some luck, though, with chicken liver, worms or crayfish.
Arkansas River at Morrilton
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Ormond Lock and Dam was 76,927 cfs, down significantly from last week’s flow at this time. Flow further upriver at Dardanelle Lock and Dam was 78,492 cfs.
(updated 5-20-2021) Charlie Hoke at Charlie's Hidden Harbor at Oppelo (501-354-8080) had no report.
Little Maumelle River
(updated 5-13-2021) Ray Hudson at River Valley Marina (501-517-1250) says clarity is clear. Water level and current are normal. Bream have made an appearance with good catches on worms and crickets. Crappie are good around the banks on minnows or jigs. Black bass are shallow and the bite is good on plastic worms and spinnerbaits. No report on catfish this week.
Arkansas River (Maumelle Pool)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Toad Suck Lock and Dam was 98,212 cfs.
Arkansas River (Little Rock Area Pools)
On Thursday, the Corps of Engineers said water flow at the Murray Lock and Dam was 82,412 cfs. Flow at the Terry Lock and Dam was 114,360 cfs.
(updated 5-20-2021) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) says water below the Terry Lock and Dam is a little muddy, and the river is running high. Bass reports were fair though, with anglers having success around the jetties using worms or crankbaits. Catfishing is good. Bream and crappie are poor.
(updated 5-20-2021) Zimmerman’s Exxon (501-944-2527) said catfish are excellent below the hydroelectric plant at Murray Lock and Dam and below Terry Lock and Dam on cut skipjack, while snagging is good as well below the hydro plant and Terry Lock and Dam. White bass are good in the Little Rock pool on white Rooster Tails and white Sassy Shad below the dam. Bream are excellent in 3-4 feet deep around the Willow Beach area on crickets and waxworms. Crappie are excellent 8-10 feet deep on minnows in the main river around the rocks.
(updated 5-13-2021) Fish ‘N’ Stuff (501-834-5733) said Wednesday afternoon that the river is “borderline fishable.” They suggest anglers put in at the backwaters, the main river is still high. Water is muddy. Bass are good in the backwaters on black/blue jigs and black/blue Chatterbaits, chartreuse square bills around wood or grass areas. Bass are good in the main river on white/chartreuse spinnerbaits, chartreuse and black crankbaits and buzzbaits early in the day and late in the evening. Crappie are good behind the jetties in 7-8 feet of water; try orange/chartreuse or solid chartreuse crappie jigs around any wood or timber.
Clear Lake (off Arkansas River-Little Rock Pool)
(updated 5-20-2021) McSwain Sports Center (501-945-2471) said the lake is “pretty clear” and high. Bream are good on redworms and crickets. Crappie remain good on minnows and jigs. Black bass were fair on spinnerbaits, crankbaits and worms. Catfish really tailed off; poor reports on the cats.
(update 5-20-2021) Donna Mulherin at Herman’s Landing (870-241-3731) reports that the lake remains a little dingy. Water level is normal. Bream are excellent on redworms or crickets. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs. Anglers are getting them trolling and spider-rigging. Black bass are excellent on jigs. Catfish are excellent on yo-yos, and using baits such as minnows and hot dogs, or fishing them with jigs.
(updated 5-20-2021) With the high water making access to Cook’s Lake impossible for anglers, the AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) made some recent trips over to Peckerwood and reports that he has done well on bass, flipping tubes in the grass. “I have also been picking off quite a few bluegill on beds in about 5 feet of water on redworms and crickets.”
(updated 5-20-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said fishing the White River tailwater in Cotter this past week meant keeping your rain suit near and ensuring your tackle box contained rainbow-hued baits. Any pink-and-blue blade, pink body or rainbow skirt on a Rooster Tail, spinner or spoon attracted a trail of trout. Bull Shoals Lake is continuing to rise as the spring rains in southwest Missouri and north-central Arkansas fill the reservoirs, but to alleviate conditions further downriver the Army Corps of Engineers and the Southwestern Power Administration are maintaining low-level releases. Here at Cotter, water level is averaging about a unit and a half (about 4,000 cfs). Fly-anglers had major success Wednesday with a black and silver (zebra) midge, mostly upstream from Cotter near Wildcat Shoals.
“We've been able to spend some time on the Buffalo National River this past week, too. Water clarity was near perfect for smallmouth bass prior to the last rainstorm. A beauty of a smallmouth, 20 inches and growing, was caught on a watermelon, red-flecked Gitzit.
“I can't remember a spring where the trees looked so full and green; the colors are so vibrant this year. Come visit and experience the Natural State in all it's springtime glory. Drop in and say ‘Hey’ on your way to the river.”
(updated 5-20-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said Tuesday that during the past week they had several rain events (combined for about a half-inch here in Cotter), cool temperatures and, at times, heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 3.2 feet to land at 17.6 feet above seasonal power pool of 662 feet msl. This is 15.4 feet below the top of the flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 2 feet to rest at 1.6 feet above seasonal power pool and 13.4 feet below the top of the flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 7.2 feet above seasonal power pool and 1.4 feet below the top of the flood pool. The White had no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 0.3 foot to rest at 10.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 12.7 feet below the top of the flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The lakes are all much higher due to recent rains, with more coming!
On the lower flows, the fishing on the White has been moderate! The top spot has been Rim Shoals. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (sizes 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 16, 18), pheasant tails (size 14), ruby midges (size 18), root beer midges (size 18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (size 10), and sowbugs (size 16). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective (John’s current favorite combination is a pheasant tail nymph with a ruby midge dropper).
(updated 5-13-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the fishing is going really well this week. Anglers are having good success catching rainbows and browns. The river is clear and at a normal level, and the Army Corps of Engineers is running 3-4 generators.
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 680.20 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.86 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.0 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 917.53 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 916.42 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).
(updated 5-20-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock reports that there is limited parking and boat ramp access is an issue due to high water. Bull Shoals is 21 feet above normal pool and rising as of earlier this week. Plan ahead especially on weekends. Despite the flooding, water clarity is good. The fishing is good. They are moving up with water capitalizing on the perch spawn and some on the old shoreline. Smallmouth mostly are in mid-lake area target points and secondary swings close to the main lake. The shad are moving. Fishing in the shad, try a fluke or swimbait 2.8. The topwater bite has started; a popper or small walk-the-dog Spook or Lucky Craft smaller profile will work. Powerfish windy, cloudy days with Whopper Plopper, a buzzbait, a bright spinnerbait, or Chatterbait in dirty flat winds shallow. If it’s clear, use flat Blue Birds, or also use Senko green pumpkin shaky head and ol’ Ned rig Carolina tube. Green pumpkin or watermelon red colors are best in clear conditions. Target points, humps, etc. and keep the boat off the old shoreline, 25 feet off. The backs of creeks have a little color change. We always catch them on a jig in channel swings. Also go with a green pumpkin Beaver flipping the shallow laydowns and bushes in the right area. Fish the conditions. Fishing is good now, in spite of the big rise in water. Surface water temperature is 65 degrees in the main lake and 70s in the backwaters.
Visit Del’s YouTube site (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for more information and tips on fishing the lake.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 567.43 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 556.61 feet msl; top flood elevation 580.0 feet msl).
(updated 5-20-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.3 foot to rest at 10.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 12.7 feet below the top of the flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The lakes are all much higher due to recent rains, with more coming!
The Norfork is fishing well. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during recent flooding. There has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18, 20, 22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (sizes 14, 16) like the Green Butt. Egg patterns have also been productive. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. John’s current favorite combination is a pheasant tail nymph with a ruby midge dropper.
Dry Run Creek is fishing well. There is increased pressure with warmer weather. Fish early or late to avoid the crowds (the creek is open to fishing from sunrise to sundown). The Norfork National Fish Hatchery is open, but the restrooms are still closed. The hot flies have been sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12), various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10), mop flies and egg patterns.
John also said, “A couple of weeks ago I wrote about running into a feeding frenzy on Dry Run Creek, where the trout were keying in on fish pellets in the discharge from the adjacent Norfork National Fish Hatchery. At the time, I did not have a pellet fly with me and I made one by rubbing mud into an egg fly. It worked and set my mind to working on how to add a pellet fly to my fly box because I feel that it represented a reliable food source and would work again.
“My first encounter with a pellet fly was many years ago on the Little Red River, where many fly-fishers were fishing pellet flies below the discharge pipes from the Greers Ferry National Fish Hatchery.
“A few years ago, when Dave and Emily Whitlock were in the process of moving to Oklahoma, the local ladies fly-fishing group, the Damsel Flies, had a farewell party for Emily at the Whitlock Home. My wife, Lori, attended, and while all of the other ladies were inside drinking margaritas she stayed outside and fished the pond with a Woolly Bugger.
“Dave came out and told her that was not the way they fished the pond. He clipped off her Woolly Bugger and tied on a pellet fly. He grabbed a scoop of catfish food and tossed the food into the pond. A feeding frenzy erupted and he instructed Lori to cast into the center of the feeding frenzy. She did as directed and was soon into a nice fish. After a long struggle she managed to land a 12-pound carp, with Dave’s assistance with the net. That is why she was able to identify what was happening on Dry Run Creek the other day.
“When I returned home, I set about coming up with a pellet fly. I searched my fly boxes (I have thousands of flies) and found none. I did find several egg flies that were the right size. I thought that the egg flies would work if they were the right color, brown.
“I went to Natural State Fly Shop looking for brown egg yarn. I found none, but Bruce, the shop manager, gave me a couple of pellet flies that he made from brown foam. A few days later, Danny Sabo, a fishing buddy, gave me a similar fly to try out.
“Since I couldn’t find the right color for my eggs, I decided to make it. I went on Amazon and bought a brown Sharpie pen. I then took the eggs I had found (they were red and yellow) and colored them brown. They looked like the ones that Dave Whitlock tied. Now all I have to do is field test them.
“The next time Lori or I have a trip to Dry Run Creek we will carry both the foam and dyed egg patterns to see how they work.”
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 5-13-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are high. With the warm temperatures the bite is better. John’s favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek or the Buffalo River. There are no dams on these streams. They both have large drainages and are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,128.55 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.43 feet msl; top flood elevation is 1,130.0 feet msl).
(updated 5-20-2021) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver Lake is about 7 feet high over normal pool level. It is clearing up and is starting to fish a bit better this last week. Bass fishing is good all over the lake. Flukes working really well on the clearer end of the lake. Stripers are still hit and miss. Look from prairie creek down towards the dam. Crappie are fair and scattered some up real shallow and others suspended at around 15 feet. It will not be long and the fish will relate to the thermocline around mid-June. Walleye are on the uptick as of late. We are catching them on jerkbaits and crawler harnesses. Look at main lake points. Catfish are good and getting better. Jug fishermen and trotliners are doing well. Bream are good and getting ready to spawn. Great fish for kids and very under-fished on Beaver Lake. Water temps are in 60s throughout the lake. Lots of debris still floating, so keep on the lookout and stay safe. Check out Jon’s Facebook page for the latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.
(updated 5-20-2021) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) says walleye are fair this week on big shad. Bream are fair on redworms and crickets. The fair action continues with crappie; use minnows or jigs around brushpiles. Black bass are good. They are shallow and hitting moving baits. Catfish are fair using worms or big shad. The lake is muddy and the surface temperature is 65-66 degrees. The water level remains high.
(updated 5-13-2021) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said, “I apologize to readers for the lack of reports; I have been quite busy with the Sheriff's Office and the Fire Department. However, I did manage to get out and do some scouting.
“The trout bite is quite good below Spider Creek. Most have been caught with various PowerBaits fished with light terminal tackle. Spoons of various sizes have been great, too. The white bass have made it up and the bite has been on fire. Locate the schools and you will be on the chew. Most are being caught with suspended crankbaits and soft plastics. Watch your water temps and you will locate the fish.
“The Army Corps of Engineers has dialed back on the spillway gates and Table Rock has started to release. This should bring the river levels back to somewhat normal. I hope you're able to get out and catch some fish.” Follow Austin’s fishing Facebook page (Busch Mountain Guide Service) for daily and weekly updates.
(updated 5-20-2021) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said the water is green with an algae bloom. Surface temperature on Wednesday midafternoon was 67 degrees. Water level is high. Those conditions results in just a fair week of catching. Crappie slowed up some with fair results this past week; use minnows and jigs. Bream are fair on redworms or crickets. Black bass were fair in the high water; throw out a topwater bait. Catfish are fair; try minnows or worms.
(updated 5-20-2020) Lake Sequoyah Boat Dock (479-444-3475) said Wednesday afternoon that the water still has a light stain and has risen to a couple of inches above normal. Bream are biting well on redworms or crickets. The crappie spawn appears to be done, and the bite is good on minnows and jigs. Black bass were active again this week with a good bite on spinnerbaits, topwater lures and Chatterbaits all are working. Catfish weren’t quite as hungry, with a fair bite found mostly using live bluegill.
(updated 5-20-2021) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said fishing remained good for all species at Lake Charles this past week. Bream were good on worms, crickets and jigs. They’re easy to find around the brushpiles, stumps and rocky points. Crappie were good on minnows, jigs and worms fished around brushpiles, stumps and rocky points. Black bass continue to bite well. Try spinnerbaits, crankbaits, plastic worms and topwater lures. Rocky points and brush seem to be the best areas to target. Catfish are good; use worms, blood bait, stink bait, chicken liver, shad or cut bait. Good fishing days, based on moon times, should be May 23-29, but the whole month of May has been active at Lake Charles.
(updated 5-20-2021) Seth Boone, the superintendent at the Lake Poinsett State Park, said, “Lake Poinsett is getting closer to being full! There are 4- to 7-inch redears that you can catch and release in the lake. We are about 8.5 feet from being full again for the first time since 2017 and we are so excited. I would only recommend kayaks or canoes out on the lake at this time.”
The gate at the dam at Lake Poinsett was closed on Dec. 1, following the completion of a three-year renovation projection, and the lake began to refilling with rainwater (Poinsett is rainfall dependent). The lake, at Lake Poinsett State Park, has been undergoing an extensive renovation with a new water control structure, more than 10,000 linear feet of shoreline work, more than 100 habitat structures placed on the lakebed, and nearly 100 trees anchored for fish habitat with more anchoring in the plans as the lake begins to refill.
The AGFC’s stocking of forage fish began in March, with hopes that the forage fish will reproduce in good numbers over the next several months. Predator stocking is planned for next year. Fathead minnows, golden shiners, threadfin shad, redear and bluegill have been added to the lake to build up a huge food supply for bass, catfish and other sportfish that will be added next year to give the lake a jump start after its renovation renovation.
(updated 5-20-2021) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) reports that water clarity is dingy and the lake is high by about 1 foot. Surface water temperature Wednesday afternoon was ranging 69-70 degrees. The crappie bite is good. Use minnows and jigs. Black bass are also biting well, with jerkbaits, topwater baits and worms getting the most action. No reports on bream or catfish.
(updated 5-13-2021) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said water levels are flowing at 500 cfs (350 cfs is average) and water clarity has been poor. Over the last week the waters have begun to clear and catching has been excellent this week. Olive Woollies have been the hot fly of the week. It may take some extra weight to get the fly down. Trout cranks can work well for spin-fishers to get down deep.
With water flow up, extra care should be taken when wading. A wading staff can be very helpful. Once the rains stop, the river will get back down to normal levels quickly.
Check out springriverfliesandguides.com for daily updates on river conditions. “Tight lines and good luck!”
(updated 5-20-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Spring River is fishing well. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and North Fork rivers. Wear cleated boots and carry a wading staff. There is a lot of bedrock that can get very slick. The hot flies have been olive Woolly Buggers with a bit of flash (size 10), cerise and hot pink San Juan worms (size 10) and Y2Ks (size 10).
The Army Corps of Engineers reported Thursday that the White River stage at Batesville was at 8.29 feet, about 6 feet below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. The Newport stage was continued to fall to 19.17 feet, now almost 7 feet below the flood stage of 26.0 feet. The stage at Augusta is still holding above 30 feet, at 30.68 feet on Thursday and almost 5 feet above flood stage of 26.0 feet.
(updated 5-20-2021) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) said the water remains muddy and at a high level. No reports.
Arkansas River (Pine Bluff Pool)
(updated 5-20-2021) The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Bass Fishing Team said water temperature is in the low 70s. Visibility is up to 1-1.5 feet with good plankton blooms in protected waters. Water levels and water velocity are variable. The shad spawn is underway; watch for them early in the morning and late in the evening along rock banks. Any shad-colored moving lure, topwaters to crankbaits, will work well for black bass at this time. Back off to brushpiles along sand ledges during the middle of the day or target cover that creates shade along the bank.
Cane Creek Lake
(updated 5-6-2021) Cane Creek State Park offices report that Cane Creek Lake water temperatures are running in the mid-60s. Water clarity is about 1 feet. Crappie are starting to fall into their early summer pattern and can be found around brush and structure with minnows and crappie jigs. Bass are falling into an early summer pattern and can be found fishing around structure and along the bank. Spinnerbaits and soft plastics are producing results. Some reports have come in that topwater action is on the rise. Catfish are being caught on trotlines and limblines using large minnows and various attractant baits such as chicken liver. Catfishing is on the rise as we are only a few weeks away from the pre-spawn and peak catfishing time.
(updated 5-13-2021) Kris Nault, AGFC district fisheries supervisor in Monticello, says dam repair work should be underway by the city now, while the AGFC has been rebuilding the lake bottom and areas near where the shoreline will be for fish habitat when the lake is refilled.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 260.85 feet msl (normal pool: 259.20 feet msl; top flood elevation is 287.0 feet msl).
(updated 5-20-2021) Mike Siefert at Millwood Lake Guide Service said that as of Tuesday, Millwood Lake level is up and rising again from the recent thunderstorms. The lake elevation on Wednesday was 17 inches above normal conservation pool at 260.6 feet and rising; oxbows' water clarity is stained, Little River clarity is muddy with current discharge this week. Millwood Lake tailwater elevation was 245 feet msl with gate discharge at the dam around 12,500 cfs in Little River according to the Army Corps of Engineers. Check the most recent lake level of Millwood Lake on the guide service’s website linked above, or at the Army Corps of Engineers website, for updated gate release changes and inflow rates with rising and falling lake levels. NAVIGATION CONDITIONS ARE HAZARDOUS on Millwood Lake with high discharge rates and heavy flow conditions in Little River. Debris fields are present. Use EXTREME CAUTION during current high gate discharge conditions.
Surface temps remain stable this week, ranging in 65-70 degrees depending on location. Current along Little River increased this week with discharge release at the dam, and river clarity is zero visibility. Clarity and visibility of Oxbows is at 8-10 inches depending on location. Further up Little River near White Cliffs and Wilton Landing has heavier stain/muddy inflow conditions. “Muddy current was everywhere we went on the Lake this week, from Okay Landing and Cottonshed and White Cliffs on Little River,” Mike says.
As for the fishing details, Mike was able to get back out for a couple of days this week between thunderstorms and flash-flood warnings. He reports:
* Largemouth bass: Bass were fair on black/blue or chartreuse shad buzzbaits and Chatterbaits. Black grape or solid black, 10-inch Power Worms caught a few bass over the last week around 2-3 pounds each. We caught a few bass on a blackberry Brush Hog and a chartreuse pumpkin Magnum Lizard. Water temperature is good for activity levels, but there is so much fresh water in Millwood over the past two weeks that the largemouths are roaming up through trees and brush into areas we couldn't reach or get close enough to. We could see and hear largemouth bass busting on baitfish or bream (bream of which are pre-spawn and getting ready to make beds) but a lot of those were just out of reach, and super shallow behind bushes, cypress trees and thick vegetation. With the present conditions as they are, from recent flash flooding, the rising lake level continues pushing the bass back into trees and brush out and in back of several creek channels we went into. We snatched a few largemouths on a Gitzit 4-inch Magnum Tube with an internal rattle in the head, and had several hits on a black neon and a pumpkinseed/chartreuse tail. We were pitching and flipping the tubes and Brush Hogs as far back into the brush as we could reach. We missed a lot of fish in those conditions, some of which, we think, were pre-spawn bream and goggle-eye (warmouth) hitting our Gitzit Tubes and not getting the hook in their mouth.
* Catfish: Improved last week and again this week with the increased current along Little River. Limblines, trotlines and yo-yos have been working for some nice blues and channel cats over the past couple of weeks with the increase of discharge at Millwood Dam. Cut shad, buffalo and soap have been working.
* No catch reports on white bass, crappie or bream. Bream are beginning to spawn, though.
Lake Greeson Tailwater
Visit www.littlemissouriflyfishing.com for a daily update on fishing conditions.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Narrows Dam was 549.68 feet msl (full pool: 548.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 408.99 feet msl (full pool: 408.00 feet msl).
(update 5-20-2021) Local crappie angler Charles Abernathy said, “I got on the water for a few hours before dark earlier in the week. The water temperature was 70-plus degrees up around the Lennox area. The water was already high before all this rain hit, so expect some floaters.
“Fish were pretty much doing the same thing from my last report. I look for suspended fish in open water. I also key in on submerged timber around spawning areas and channels (15 feet or more depth). I’m seeing a lot of small ones on the brush mixed in with some big ones. I threw a pink/chartreuse tail Slab Slanger paired with a 1/16-ounce orange head. The water was fairly clean, but the sky was pretty dreary. Worked pretty dang good.
“Warning: I’m about to insert my opinion here and it’s worth about 2 cents. If you want to catch bigger fish consistently, take your forward-looking sonar and find you a big fish suspended out in open water or hanging off a tree by itself, and certainly not around a smaller fish who is greedy, and swing you a pretty jig over its head. It works (most of the time, haha).
“Sorry it’s been a while. Life sometimes gets busy and I appreciate some of you reaching out asking, ‘Where you at?’ As always, feel free to ping me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. I have a YouTube channel where I share some fishing content and have already posted this trip. The lake is going to be trashy until all this rain gets out of here. Please be careful.”
(updated 5-20-2021) John Duncan of yoyoguideservice.com at Iron Mountain Marina said, “Well, turkey season is finally over. time to get serious about these crappie. I must say that what I write today was prior to the deluge we have received, except for lake levels. The lake has had a large rise with the rain we have received. The level is 408.8 feet msl and rising. Wow. Catfishing should be good with all the new cover going under water. Fish the freshly flooded areas. Live bait is the best. “Crappie have been moving more to the brushpiles. I have been catching fish from Brushy to Shouse Ford. My method has been to pull up 20 feet or so feet away from piles and either throw a ⅛-ounce jig or a minnow on a slip cork over the piles. This helps eliminate the spooking of fish and usually get the best fish first. After getting all that will bite on top I then pull over the pile with the minnows to finish up the catch. Jig bodies I have been using are Monkey Mink and Tennessee Shad, pink or chartreuse heads, ⅛-ounce or smaller. I have been locating the crappie in around 20-foot water depth and fish suspended at 8-12 feet.
“Bream will be bedding up this week with the full moon coming. Look for the “waffle.”
(updated 5-6-2021) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips Guide Service (501-844-5418) said, the fish is the same basic thing as last week. Some crappie are still in the middle of their spawn. Plenty of little ones. The big ones will soon show up. Water is a little high right now but not muddy. Watch out for floating debris.
De Queen Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 446.71 feet msl (full pool: 437.00 feet msl).
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 544.34 feet msl (full pool: 526.00 feet msl).
White Oak Lake
(updated 5-13-2021) Angler Stephen Tyson Jr. had a big day out on Lower White Oak lake recently, landing a monster 10-pound bass. Check out his Facebook fishing page at https://www.facebook.com/StephenTysonJrFiahing
(updated 5-6-2021) Curtis Willingham of River Rat Bait (870-231-3831) said water clarity remains muddy and the level is high, but he was able to get out on the lake for some good bream fishing. Surface temperature is ranging 69-70 degrees. The bream are biting well on worms and crickets. Catfish appeared to be biting well, also, he said.
Blue Mountain Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 387.34 feet msl (full pool: 384.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 419.0 feet msl).
(updated 5-13-2021) Angler Bennie Goodman fished Blue Mountain this week and said the water level is up 9-11 feet. In open water you can find the crappie 5-10 feet down, and the flooded willow trees are loaded like crappie Christmas trees with good-size crappie. Any color jig is working, but they did like the minnow around the flooded willow trees.
(updated 5-20-2021) Donald Ramirez at Lucky Landing (479-641-7615) said the lake remains muddy and high with no reports on catches.
Lake Catherine (Below Carpenter Dam)
For weekly flow releases from Carpenter Dam, visit www.entergy.com/hydro
(updated 5-20-2021) Shane Goodner, owner of Catch’em All Guide Service, reports that water temperature below the dam is 55 degrees with stained conditions in the tailrace. Entergy has scheduled a 7,000 cfs generation schedule beginning Friday, May 21, and continuing through Thursday, May 27. This pattern will run 24/7 and is a very fast flow of water that can be dangerous to boaters and wade fishermen alike. Anyone attempting to navigate the Carpenter Dam tailrace is advised to use extreme caution. Lake Ouachita has now risen into flood pool and all generation efforts at area dams will be devoted to lowering the big lake back to safe levels. In the big picture, fishing below Carpenter Dam this year for rainbow trout has been a dismal failure. Record low catches of trout from professional guides have dominated the season in an area known for excellent trout fishing. Last year was marred by constant flooding that ruined the majority of the season. This year has surpassed that in low catch rates with no concrete reason for the slow bite. The general public has also reported similar results with many anglers moving to other areas hoping for better outcomes. The Game and Fish Commission has completed its the trout stocking for the spring and no more fish are to be stocked until late November. The crappie and walleye spawn were uneventful in catch numbers mostly due to area flooding that brought on very fast flows of water below the dam for weeks that prevented anglers from accessing areas that held fish. The only bright side of things were days when white bass were caught in good numbers as they fed on threadfin shad.
April and May are stormy months in Arkansas and often bring flooding to our area. Until a safer generation schedule is implemented, fishing and boating below area dams will be dangerous. Recreation activities below hydroelectric dams are much different than the main bodies of lakes and rivers and have many dangerous side effects when bad weather is a weekly event. Being aware and taking proper precautions can make the difference between an enjoyable day and one that ends in injury or death. Hopefully the month of June will mark a more stable weather pattern and bring better fishing to Lake Catherine. Remember to wear a mask and social distance in the park area and always wear a life jacket on the water.
(updated 5-20-2021) Charles Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service (479-647-9945) had no report.
(updated 5-6-2021) Greeson Marine, hometown dealer of the Arkansas-born-and-bred Xpress all-welded aluminum fishing boats in Hot Springs, reports lake levels a touch over full pool due to heavy rainfall lately. Water temps are in the high 60s to low 70s throughout the lake, with visibility fair to good with some color to it. Lake Hamilton has been fishing really well this year and that trend continues! Bass are finished spawning for the most part. This means fish will migrate out to the summer haunts of shade, food and current. Cover and food are the two major factors right now. The bass are really feeding heavily on small baitfish, which is very similar to the fall conditions. Swim Jigs with plastic fluke trailers, Zoom shad-colored flukes fished weightless and non-suspending jerkbaits are getting smoked in pockets with good cover and docks. The floating worm has been replaced by these presentations. The bass simply want baitfish and it seems like nothing else will do. As night falls or early in the mornings, a Whopper Plopper or a Spook in lighter colors do really well until the sun comes up.
Crappie reports have been very good! Brushpiles and bridge piers in 20 feet of water are producing with a slip cork and live minnow. Bream are good everywhere on worms but especially deeper docks with wooden pilings. A worm and bobber work great! Catfish have also been good everywhere but especially in deep creek channels and drop-offs next to current. Cheese or cut bait is the way to go.
“Be careful out there everyone. The pleasure boaters are already out in large numbers. Be aware of your surroundings. Good luck and go Greeson!”
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation was 347.78 feet msl (normal pool: 344.95 feet msl; top flood elevation is 373.0 feet msl).
(updated 5-20-2021) Andrews Bait Shop and More (479-272-4025) said the lake level as of Wednesday had fallen some from last week’s level but was still about 1 foot above normal. The clearity is a little dingy. Surface temperature has jumped noticeably since last week, hitting 74-75 degrees. Bream fishing is good on redworms and crickets.
Crappie are staying about 8 feet deep with a good bite on minnows and jigs (black/chartreuse and red/chartreuse are best colors). Black bass are good, with spinnerbaits and plastic worms still working best. Try a War Eagle spinner with gold leaf skirt. Catfishing is good. They’re at 3-5 feet depth and biting cut shad, minnows, hot dogs, noodles and “just about anything.”
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at Blakely Dam was 578.82 feet msl (full pool: 578.00 feet msl).
(updated 5-20-2021) Todd Gadberry at Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa (870-867-2191/800-832-2276 out of state) reports that black bass are good. Shaky head watermelon candy worm and a swimbait that mimics a shad seem to be working best. Walleye are good and being caught on Shad Raps and Flicker Shad when trolling near/over points. Stripers are good. These fish are being caught on topwater C-10 Redfins and live bait in the central part of the lake near Bird Island and the Cedar Fouche mouth. Bream are excellent and can be caught on worms and crickets. These fish are on beds 6-10 feet deep. Crappie are still good. Try a small jig or minnow near brush in 8-15 feet of water. Catfish are very good and are being caught on juglines and trotlines with live or cut bait. Water temperature is ranging 68-72 degrees and the clarity is clearing. Lake level is 578.40 feet msl. Call the Mountain Harbor fishing guides (Mike Wurm, 501-622-7717, or Chris Darby, 870-867-7822) for more information.
(updated 5-13 2021) Capt. Darryl Morris of Family Fishing Trips Guide Service (501-844-5418) said crappie are doing great. “We’ve caught them as shallow as 6 feet and as deep as 15 feet. Live bait works best, but jigs do their part, too. We’ve also seen large schools of white bass and small striper surface-feeding on threadfin shad early at first light. Spoons and 3-inch swimbaits landed a single limit in short order.”
White River/Clarendon Area
The Army Corps of Engineers on Thursday reported the Clarendon gauge had dropped slightly from last week to 27.59 feet, more than 1.5 feet above the flood stage of 26.00 feet.
Bear Creek Lake/Storm Creek Lake
(updated 5-21-2021) Tyler Ball, park ranger at Mississippi River State Park (870-295-4040), said anglers at Bear Creek Lake report having success catching crappie, blue catfish and bluegill. Crappie and bluegill have been reported to be biting at depths of 3-4 feet, while catfish have been reported to be biting at 6-8 feet. Anglers report having success catching crappie by fishing with minnows, while using redworms to catch bluegill. Anglers report catching blue cats with different types homemade baits. Meanwhile, there has been very little fishing activity taking place at Storm Creek Lake.
(updated 5-20-2021) The AGFC’s Wil Hafner at Cook’s Lake Conservation Education Center (870-241-3373) reports that high water from the White River still makes access to Cooks Lake impossible for youth and mobility-impaired anglers at this time. Wil did visit Peckerwood Lake recently; see his report under Central Arkansas.
(updated 5-6-2021) Kent Williams of Oxbow Guide Service (870-278-7978) says the weather warmed up a little and so did the lake. Water temperatures as of Monday was at 71 degrees in the morning with water temperature rising throughout the day. Most crappie have spawned and are in a post-spawn pattern. Fish will again be scattered in the lake. There are some fish back out over deep water and some are still in the shallows. Right now, baitfish are the key. Jigs in green/white and yellow/white have produced this past week. Post-spawn is a time the fish will feed heavily.
No reports on bass. However, bream are shallow and biting. A 1/64-ounce or 1/80-ounce jigs in brown or black will catch bream. The base of the cypress trees are a good place to start looking for them. No report on catfish.